Press Release

Press Release  Fatal Arlington Fire Started with Baseboard Heater

Smoke Alarms, Sprinklers Operated in Apartment Building
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  • Department of Fire Services

Media Contact   for Fatal Arlington Fire Started with Baseboard Heater

Jake Wark, Public Information Officer

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ARLINGTONA fatal two-alarm fire in Arlington was accidental and started with an electric baseboard heater that either malfunctioned or was in close proximity to combustible items, said Arlington Fire Chief Kevin M. Kelley, Arlington Police Chief Juliann Flaherty, State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey, and Middlesex County District Attorney Marian T. Ryan.

The fire originated in the bedroom of a third-floor apartment in a seven-story building at 54 Medford St. It was first reported through a 9-1-1 call shortly after 4:00 this morning. The Arlington Fire Department responded minutes later to find two people injured. One of them, a woman over 65, later succumbed to her injuries. Her name is not being released pending full family notifications and a formal identification by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. As of this morning, about 16 people were displaced from the building, which houses a large number of older adults.

“On behalf of the Arlington Fire Department, I want to express our deepest condolences to the victim’s loved ones,” said Chief Kelley. “Her loss is a tragedy for the family and the community. Fortunately, smoke alarms and fire sprinklers in the building operated properly, alerting residents and containing the fire until our firefighters arrived to extinguish it.  Without smoke alarms and sprinklers, this morning’s tragedy could have been even worse.”

“Home heating is the second-leading cause of residential fires, and historically they are most common in January,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “It’s important to keep curtains, bedding, clothing, and other items that can burn at least three feet away from a heat source. Our ‘Keep Warm, Keep Safe’ campaign provides helpful information for home heating safety, with resources available in seven languages.”

Arlington’s Department of Health and Human Services, through its Council on Aging and alongside the Arlington Housing Authority, which manages 54 Medford St., has established a donation fund to support the residents that have been impacted by the fire. Funds will be used to rehouse residents that have been displaced and to replace items lost in the fire. The Council on Aging will be coordinating resources to support the needs of residents in coordination with the Arlington Housing Authority. To donate to the Chestnut Manor Relief Fund, visit

The origin and cause of the fire were investigated jointly by the Arlington Fire Department, the Arlington Police Department, the State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office, and State Police detectives assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s office.


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